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Teething trouble at Auckland Airport's $300m transport hub leads to tweaks

Grant Bradley,
Publish Date
Mon, 15 Apr 2024, 12:13pm

Teething trouble at Auckland Airport's $300m transport hub leads to tweaks

Grant Bradley,
Publish Date
Mon, 15 Apr 2024, 12:13pm

Auckland Airport is putting in a new buggy service to help disabled passengers use its international terminal following complaints about its new transport hub. It is also fine-tuning arrangements for commercial vehicle operators. 

One limousine company owner says the new hub is nothing but a ‘’pretty building’' and new drop-off and pick-up facilities for disabled passengers, air crew and for those using commercial vehicles are worse than before. He warns congestion will get worse at peak times around the hub, which opened just over a week ago. 

Auckland Airport acknowledges there have been problems with the first stage of the $300 million centre. 

“As with any major new infrastructure, we have experienced some initial teething issues and we are focused on fixing things as quickly as possible, particularly for customers with accessibility needs,” a spokeswoman said. 

The new transport hub was the biggest change to transport flows at Auckland Airport in around 50 years, and it was going to take some getting used to, she said. 

Since it opened, about 10,000 vehicles have driven through the new facility every day. “It’s been working very successfully,” the spokeswoman said, with traffic flowing smoothly and customers enjoying the improved space and undercover environment. 

There were also more than a dozen staff managing traffic and pedestrian flows and being on hand to help travellers. 

The airport had a regular shuttle service connecting travellers quickly and easily between the terminal and the pick-up area for taxis, rideshares and shuttles, plus carparks D and E. 

“We’re looking to build traveller awareness of this shuttle, including improving signage and reminding transport operators about the service,” the spokeswoman said. 

Within the transport hub itself, accessible drop-off and pick-up zones are located closest to the terminal, about 30m away from the main terminal door. 

“We have listened to the feedback that’s come in over recent days that the distance can be a challenge for some customers, so we are working on a new buggy service to support anyone who needs assistance on departure or arrival to move between the transport hub and the terminal building,” the spokeswoman said. 

Alongside this, accessibility card holders can use the Auckland Airport mobility valet for the same price as normal parking, with a buggy providing a shuttle to and from the terminal. 

International best practice requires public drop-off and pick-up traffic to be securely set back 30 metres from the terminal buildings to mitigate security risks. 

She said commercial transport operators were “a vital part” of the airport system and their feedback was important. 

Although the limousine company owner says there hasn’t been adequate consultation, the spokeswoman said the company had worked with transport operators since last October to ensure they are well-informed about the transport changes. 

“We will continue to work with them to fine-tune the operation and look for opportunities to make improvements for the benefit of customers.” 

The airport was working with the airline crew transportation providers and until all the canopy cover is in place, which is around mid-May, crew drop-offs will happen alongside the terminal in what is the pick-up area for accessibility card holders using pre-booked taxis and shuttles. 

Crew pick-ups remain in a coach park opposite the Te Arikinui Pullman Hotel, where they have always been. 

The hub is being built in stages, with the ground floor opening ahead of further services and parking. 

“We recognise this construction is disruptive and we thank everyone for their ongoing patience as we work to improve the experience of travelling through Auckland Airport,” the spokeswoman said. 

New, dedicated pick-up and drop-off areas for transport operators will become operational alongside the terminal to support international and domestic travellers longer term, starting with the inner terminal road reopening in 2026 for commercial transport drop-offs. 

At that point, all lanes on the ground floor of the transport hub will be available for public drop-off and pick-up. 

The new ground transport system at Auckland International Airport.

The new ground transport system at Auckland International Airport. 

Advice for travellers 

The easiest way for travellers to get between the terminal and the pick-up zone for taxis, rideshares and airport transfer operators is to take the blue shuttle bus from directly outside the main terminal building. This also connects to carparks D and E. 

For accessibility card holders who prefer to self-drive and park, the airport will continue to offer the mobility valet, which has been available since carpark A closed in mid-2022 for the construction of the transport hub. For the same price as long-term parking, accessibility card holders can arrive and depart from the hub valet with an electric buggy available for transfers to the terminal. Further accessible parking is on offer in carparks D and E with a blue shuttle bus running every 15 minutes between the carparks and outside the international terminal. 

Accessibility cardholders who need to be picked up from directly outside the terminal can make arrangements with taxi and shuttle providers when they book their transport. 

A one-hour parking area on the ground floor of the hub is coming soon and it will provide the closest short-term parking option and included accessibility parks. 

Further parking levels above open later this year providing more than 2000 car parking spaces in front of the terminal. Also, later this year the rental car operations will move into the transport hub. 

Over the coming weeks landscaping will be completed around the plaza areas including additional seating and canopy coverage. 

This story was originally published on the Herald, here

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